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Colleges do not need OFSTED

CHIEF inspector Chris Woodhead was quoted as saying to college principals: "We must have an inspection process that comes to some judgments that we can stand up, about whether the students in your college are making the progress that they should."

Many colleges can already answer this question on the basis of detailed and extensive data relating the grades achieved to measures of prior achievement and developed abilities.

It is a waste of public money to have inspectors passing judgment on data which speaks for itself. We also need to ask whether it is a waste of public money having inspectors, having given six to 12 weeks' notice of exactly when they will be in the college, sitting in lectures, watching over-prepared, over-anxiously delivered lectures to students.

Where is the credibility in such a procedure? Where is te research basis on which OFSTED can pretend to predict the quality of the teaching on the basis of such a sample?

The fact is that OFSTED is an irrational response to a very important concern with quality in education. It prevents learning by pretending to have the answers on the basis of totally inadequate methods. As for value for money, it must be one of the few operations in which the value is negative.

It is rumoured that the only reason OFSTED is replacing the far better, far more professional, far more rational, Further Education Funding Council inspection system is a personal friendship in the highest levels of power. This dirigiste control is damaging education in this country.

Professor Carol Taylor

Fitz-Gibbon University of Durham

Director

Curriculum, evaluation and management centre

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